This was originally posted to the Ancient Midwifery Blog on March 16, 2010.
Jill is a Creighton Model Practitioner Intern, and offers consultations both from her office and also over Skype (so you don’t need to live in the Vancouver area). For more info on her services, please see the “fertility care” section of the website.
Creighton Model is a method of charting a woman’s fertility and helping her to understand the natural processes of her own body. NaPro technology is a medical regimen that treats a whole host of gynecological issues without obstructing or suppressing any reproductive functions.]
Despite what I often see portrayed in the media around me, I firmly believe that faith and science are not mortal enemies. In fact, there are times when religious doctrine necessitates innovation, and amazing discoveries are made as a result.
The Creighton Model fertility care system and NaPro are two such examples.
In the Catholic Church, as well as many other world religions, the use of any artificial birth control or purposeful fertility obstruction is expressly forbidden. So what is a pious Catholic woman to do if she suffers from raging hormonal imbalances, severe endometriosis, out of control PMS, or reoccurring ovarian cysts? What if her health or socioeconomic situation dictate that she should not conceive a child at this time, but she still desires a sexual relationship with her husband? The rest of the world solved these problems with hormonal birth control. Out of this dilemma, a pious Catholic doctor responded, and Creighton Model was born.
While this system was created by a Catholic to meet the needs of Catholic women and families, the knowledge learned can help a whole generation of women regardless of religion, creed, or point of view.
Creighton Model is more than keeping a chart. It is a way for women to learn to trust their bodies, understand their reproductive cycles, and receive natural, hormone balancing treatment for any abnormalities that occur.
We live in a society that loves to solve every problem with a pill. The problem with this is that pills usually treat only the symptoms of a problem, and don’t get to the root of it. If a woman suffers from heavy periods, severe cramping, irregular cycles, excessive body hair, or other hormonally driven problems, the most common solution offered by doctors is a birth control pill. While on the pill, women typically have regular 28 day cycles, bleed less during menstruation, and often any external issues also lessen or disappear. However, they have not been cured, and if they choose to go off the pill, these problems often simply return. So these women are left with two choices: stay on the pill, or suffer.
But what if a woman wants to conceive? Obviously she would need to stop taking her birth control. What if the problems return? What if her hormones return to their imbalanced state and conception is unlikely or impossible? This is where pharmacology alone fails us.
When a woman charts her fertility through Creighton Model, and regularly reviews her chart with her practitioner, many problems can either be caught early, or treated quickly and simply. I have personal experience with this.
I had no idea that there was anything abnormal about my cycles other than their length. They were incredibly variable. Sometimes they were 30 days long. Sometimes they were 70 days long. It had always been that way since I began menstruating, so I never thought twice about it. When I began charting with Creighton, my practitioner quickly saw that I had abnormal spotting, prolonged bleeds, as well as other abnormalities in my cycles. My husband and I were not trying to conceive at the time, so I had really not considered any issues with future fertility. My practitioner referred me to a Creighton trained physician in my area, and through blood tests and ultrasounds, I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). I had no outward physical symptoms of it, but my cycle showed it clearly. If I had been on birth control, I would never have known.
This diagnosis can be devastating for a family trying to conceive. Many women with PCOS struggle for long periods of time, and often go through many different therapies to try and ensure ovulation, conception, and retention of a pregnancy. This is where NaPro came in. NaPro protocols simply work to balance the hormones to bring back (or create for the first time) normal reproductive function. While I can never know definitively, I have a feeling that our ease in conceiving our daughter is due to this therapy regimen.
However, the greatest benefit that I have taken from fertility awareness is the power and knowledge I have acquired about my own body. I don’t have to rely on a regular 28 day cycle to know when I will menstruate or when I am optimally fertile. I can listen to and work with my own body to plan my family and be responsible for my own reproductive health. It puts the power back into my hands, and out of the pockets of drug manufacturers and doctors. It costs me nothing per month, and there are no negative side effects or drug interactions. It will last me my entire reproductive life. When I choose to become pregnant again, I will be able to know my due date without the help of an ultrasound, regardless of the length of my cycles.
So, when it comes to reproductive science: religion does not necessitate ignorance, and knowledge is power. Let’s give that power back to women.
For more info: